"Let's start at the very beginning"

On August 1 2015, I woke to the news that Cilla Black had died.

Having not only grown up with the Queen of Saturday Night TV, but also having been at a party where she was a guest seven weeks prior to this headline-grabbing event, I was shocked and saddened that yet another icon of the entertainment industry had fallen to the great cull of that devastating year.

I sat at my laptop and tapped out a memory of the two occasions when I had been in the presence of "our Cilla" and posted it on my Facebook page.

Over the course of the day, I was overwhelmed by the response of my "readers", who found something to laugh and cry about within my tale of close encounter with celebrity.

And that got me thinking...

I've met a lot of famous people. Let's write about it.

I set myself the task to finish a story every Saturday and post it on my page.

My original intention was to write a ticklish gossip, but as my memory bank opened and flooded through my fingers, I realised that I was writing about the journey towards meeting the object of my adoration, and acknowledging the personal importance of these brief but close encounters.

As I tapped away, I retraced my steps through 55 years on this planet, sometimes walking, sometimes running, dancing, meandering, marching to where I find myself today.

By happy coincidence, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, and this happy fact put the final piece of the framework into what I was writing.

An acknowledgement and record of pivotal moments in LGBT history, from the first showing of "The Naked Civil Servant" on TV to the release of "Sing if you're glad to be gay", from being one of the crowd in the celebration of the Pride marches and protesting against Clause 28 of the Local Government Bill, of weeping at funerals and laughing at weddings, of being out and so very very proud.

By the end of the year, I had written a book.

And I had no idea what to do with it!

I became a master of displacement, putting it in files and bottom drawers, trying to avoid having to cope with the inevitable flood of rejections from literary agents and publishing houses.

A friend of mine made a suggestion. "Go to Gay's the Word" Look along the shelves, and find a book that is in the same ballpark as yours. Then contact them direct,"

I went into the shop...for the first time, I'm ashamed to say, and picked up a copy of "Kiss and Make Up" by Carl Stanley.

I noted the publisher on the back of the book. Ignite. I dropped them a letter and a few sample chapters.

I got a mail back from a man called Steve, promising nothing, but telling me to "edit ruthlessly" and get back to them.

Let's get it out in the open. Writing is "easy". Editing is a beast, especially when you are editing your own work, which I liken to cutting off those baby curls that you love so much, but you know have got to go.

Biting every bullet I could, I clipped, rewrote, cut and sent a revised version, which received an encouraging response and the offer of a meeting in London.

Steve and I met, and over a lunch at the Natural History Museum, tentatively sealed the deal to work on the book with the aim to publish around the July 27 anniversary of the Wolfenden Report, that opened up the cell door and offered the key out of the closet to so many members of the LGBT community.

For five furrow-browed months, we threw e-mails at each other, his covered with the dreaded "red pen". mine with corrections, until finally, in June...we had made a book.

And I still can't quite believe it.

Next week, boxes of my book will arrive, and a copy will sit in my hand.

Tears and Tattinger, my dears.

It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life, and I am both happy and proud of the result.

It's yours now...to read, to hopefully laugh, to maybe cry, to remember, to learn, and to realise that, to someone somewhere, you are a hero.


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